320 – Hostel: Part II

Hostel 2 is a totally different movie from Hostel 1. This time, it’s three dimwitted female Americans, whereas last time it was two dimiwitted male Americans and their equally dimwitted European friend. It’s these differences that are necessary for a sequel to separate itself from its progenitor.

As in the first movie, the Americans are lured to a lurid youth hostel in Slovakia, whereupon they’re to be tortured in inventive manners by rich businessmen from around the world. The young women are Beth (Lauren German), the smart-but-cute one (not too pretty but certainly not a fugly); Whitney (Bijou Phillips), the mean-and-skanky one; and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), the shy, sneezy one. (There you go, the Three Clueless Dwarfs: Smarty, Skanky, and Sneezy.)The girls are headed to Prague when a sexy stranger (Vera Jordanova) tells them about therapeutic hot springs in Slovakia. Being raised to be cautious around strangers, the girls don’t decide to take their new friend’s advice until they’ve all had some time for girl talk.

Only one true spirit can survive a horror movie, and it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s being positioned as the Good Guy who will live to see Hostel 3: Robots in Your Bedroom. By the same token, it’s also easy to see who among the bad, evil torturin’ rich dudes will turn out to be hunky dory. We know this because there’s an inordinate amount of time spent on the two guys who win the auction that gives them the right to torture Beth and Whitney. One of the guys seems reticent, almost unsure whether he wants to get into this business at all, while his buddy is gung ho and ready to start some creepy pain-giving.

The method that the secret torture society uses is unchanged; they plant young travelers in the hostel and pay them to lure the tourists to their doom. The hostel itself is complicit, as the creepy-looking desk clerk scans the girls’ passports and puts their pictures on the auction site, thus setting the bidding in motion. And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for these meddling kids. Oh, wait, that implies they don’t get away with it.

Blah, blah, blah, the kids get separated, despite all omens of Bad Things Afoot. I mean, look, they’re alone in a foreign country, and most of the citizens don’t speak English. They’re the very picture of Ugly Americans, in that they think nothing could possibly happen to them, no matter how loutish they behave. It doesn’t speak well for the movie when you quickly hope not only that they’re captured and tortured but that it’s sooner rather than later. You’re supposed to be rooting for these three girls (yeah, I know, they’re technically women, but they don’t act like it), and yet they’re so annoying, so steadfastly stupid, and so perfectly one dimensional that you openly wish for their demise. Bad start.

When we finally do get to the torture scenes, our rooting interest hasn’t really changed, although we know in our hearts that our feisty girls are going to come out on top somehow. Well, at least one of them, anyway. As with the first movie, there are some truly garish gore scenes; this isn’t a movie for those with weak constitutions, although oddly enough no one throws up on screen. Just lots and lots and lots of blood.

The movie feels particularly misogynistic, too; in the first one, the guys were ultimately killed because they were simply overpowered and outwitted and outgunned by the bad guys, but in this one the girls suffer because they are dumb and flighty and self-absorbed. Here’s a good indication of how bad the movie is – people are killed, tortured, maimed, what have you, but what REALLY sets off our heroine is a certain four-letter word that begins with the letter C. Yes, up till that point – when she’d been shackled and humiliated – she was as tolerant as she could be, but man, once the Bad Guy calls her a C-word, oh NO HE DIDN’T! At that point you just know she’s gonna be okay, and he might not be.

There’s an interesting opening bit that ties the end of the first film to this one, but that’s about the only connection there is between the two, other than the general rich-American-kids-get-tortured-and-killed bit. It’s actually one of the more suspenseful and powerful scenes in the entire movie. But overall this is a dead movie, listlessly throwing buckets of blood at the audience in hopes that something goopy will stick. It’s a prime example of a sequel that’s been mailed in, what with a nearly identical plot. There are a couple of twists tossed in to keep things mildly interesting, but it’s all for nothing. And the ending is completely unnecessary, other than to prepare us for the next installment of a so-called franchise that should have quit at one.

*1/2

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